Keeping your pets safe this Easter

Eating chocolate? Sorting out the garden? This Easter, be careful of the everyday things that can prove fatal to your pets

This Easter, be especially careful to keep pets and chocolate separate. Whether it’s chocolate in the house, arriving in the post or eggs hidden around the garden by the Easter Bunny, some pets – dogs especially, just can’t resist it. But it can prove fatal - as can various other things that are commonly around this long weekend. And this year, it might be harder than ever to see a vet, so please be extra vigilant.

Chocolate can be very toxic to dogs. It varies how much so, but generally, the better the quality of the chocolate, the more dangerous it is – with plain chocolate and cocoa powder the worst of all. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine – something that the human body can process but dogs and cats can’t.

Initially, chocolate poisoning can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, which may lead to excitability, twitching, tremors, fitting and life-threatening problems with the liver and heart.

Keep all chocolate out of reach of your pets, and if they eat any, take it very seriously and seek immediate veterinary advice. If you have an Agria Pet Insurance policy, call the Pet Health Helpline who can advise you if your pet has ingested a ‘toxic dose’; calculated using their weight and the amount and type of chocolate involved.

 This is what owner Heather had to do, when her dog, Eddie, managed to get hold of a whole box of chocolates. Read more about what happened to him below.

 Easter represents additional dangers to our pets too.

 1. Spring bulbs  

Daffodils, tulips and crocus bulbs are toxic and can poison a dog if they are able to dig up and eat the bulbs. Side effects can include fitting, heart and blood pressure problems, vomiting and diarrhoea. Additionally, daffodil flowers and even drinking the water from a vase of them can be enough to make your dog unwell.

 2. Herbicides & fungicides – plant and fungal-killing chemicals e.g. weed killer, mildew control

Toxicity among herbicides varies enormously, but poisoning can occur from as little contact as a pet brushing up against a treated plant. The results can vary from vomiting to liver failure – so keep these chemicals well away from your pets at all times.

 3. Rodenticides – rat or mouse killers

If you find you have a rodent problem and you have other pets, do not use rodenticides. They are as attractive to your cat or dog as they are to the rodents they are designed to kill, and that’s why they account for so much of the pet poisoning seen by vets every year.

Symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, lameness or bruising are typical, as well as vomiting, excitability, changes in body temperature and fitting. Even if you haven’t used this poison yourself but your cat is displaying symptoms, it could be that they have eaten a poisoned mouse from elsewhere – so seek veterinary advice immediately.

 4. Antihistamines

The blossom is out and for many of us that means hay fever is kicking in. But be very careful not to leave antihistamines lying around as they can prove highly toxic to pets. Symptoms to look out for include agitation, lethargy, vomiting, aggression and seizures, and they could prove fatal.

 5. Lilies

Beautiful they may be, but they are also highly dangerous to cats. For some, even being in the same room as lilies can be enough to cause a toxic reaction. If there’s even a chance that your cat has come into contact with them in a vase or as a plant, seek veterinary advice immediately as any delay could result in kidney failure or even death.

If you are concerned that you think your pet has eaten or been in contact with anything toxic, or if they have any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek veterinary advice immediately.

All Agria Pet Insurance policyholders have 24/7 access to the Pet Health Helpline. Call them free at any time on 03333 321 947.

The Pet Health Helpline, on 03333 321 947 should be used as a first port of call for any health concerns you may have about your pet. They will recommend if you need to go to the vets or not, but the service is not intended to be used in place of going to your vet. If you are very concerned about your pet do not hesitate in contacting your vet for emergency help in the first instance.

Eddie and the Milk Tray

Eddie, the four-year-old Patterdale cross rescue dog had a very close call when he managed to climb up to reach and eat an almost full box of Milk Tray chocolates… When Heather, his owner found him and realised what had happened, she immediately called the Pet Health Helpline for advice.

Calculating the toxicity of the chocolate based on the volume he’d eaten and his weight, Heather was advised that he had consumed a lethal amount and needed to get to the vet immediately.

The vet gave him an injection to make him vomit and expel as much chocolate as possible. “It was utterly heartbreaking to watch, but fortunately he was sick several times, and the vet thought that we had acted quickly enough before too much was digested,” says Heather.

Eddie was given medication to take later that evening to line his intestines and prevent any further absorption, and was sent home for close monitoring. The vet had wanted to keep him in, but as Eddie is quite an anxious dog, and Heather is a very experienced pet owner, it was agreed that she could monitor him herself through the night.

“I had to check his heart rate every 30 minutes until 3am, and monitor him very closely for muscle tremors, which would have been a sign that he was in trouble, as well as check his poo for 24 hours afterwards, to ensure his digestion was functioning normally.

“Thank goodness Eddie recovered from this episode but we were so lucky. The vet said that had he been left untreated, he would have died by 9pm that evening.”

Eddie - safe and well thanks to the quick actions of his owner and rapid veterinary help

If you are concerned that you think your pet has eaten or been in contact with anything toxic, or if they have any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek veterinary advice immediately.

All Agria Pet Insurance policyholders have 24/7 access to the Pet Health Helpline. Call them free at any time on 03333 321 947.